Japan is one of the most industrially sophisticated countries in the world -- but many of the traditional arts and crafts developed over the centuries still service.
GV Home of cabinet maker in Tokyo, Japan.
SV Cabinet maker Kuniharu Shimazaki planing strip of wood.
CU Wood working tools. (2 SHOTS)
SU & SV Shimazaki making cabinet. (4 SHOTS)
CU Wood working tools.
CU Strip of wood being planed.
CU Shimazaki joins wood sections together to form cabinet. (12 SHOTS)
CU & SV Shimazaki sanding surface of wood to put finishing touch to cabinet (3 SHOTS)
SV & CU Completed items of furniture on display. (4 SHOTS)
(AERIAL VIEW) While Tokyo is one of the most modern cities of the world, many of its older districts still host the traditional crafts and arts developed over many centuries. Seventy-two-year-old Kuniharu Shimazaki has spent 60 years lovingly crafting beautiful furniture from wood, and is today one of the few remaining expert cabinetmakers still working at this ancient craft.
(PLANING WOOD) Attention to even the minutes detail is the vital factor to a traditional craftsman like Shimazaki. Every surface and every angle of each part of his work must conform to the strictest standards on order to win his approval. Working slowly, completely by hand, he molds the wood to precisely the shape he requires.
(TOOL) A cabinetmaker's tools are very precious to him, particularly since a craftsman like Shimazaki makes many of his own tools himself. He orders the steel blades from a specialist, but makes the handles himself to exactly fit him own hands. It is only with such completely personalized tools that he can achieve the perfect fits for every joint that characterize his expert craftsmanship.
(FURNITURE) Shimazaki makes only traditional Japanese styles of furniture, among which are dressing tables, display shelves, letter boxes, hand mirrors and tiny boxes for personal seals.
(TEMPLE) In his leisure time, he often takes one of his many grandchildren (he has tow sons, four daughters and a great many grandchildren) on visits to the famous nearby Sensoji Temple in the old-town district of Asakusa.
(WITH APPRENTICES) Over the years, Shimazaki has trained 15 apprentices; currently he is instructing three more. He teaches them the varied techniques of the craft and inspects and criticizes their work. "My craft is slowly disappearing in the modern world," he notes, "and by training such promising young men I can be sure my grandchildren will be able to enjoy fine, had-crafted furniture in their lifetimes."
(FITTING JOINTS) Shimazaki works completely on his own, with no plans or blueprints. He designs every piece himself, completely in his had, before beginning work with the wood. because every joint in his work fits perfectly together, no nails or screws are needed to hold them together. The joints fit so precisely that they become invisible in a finished piece. Even those parts which will never be seen, the underside of drawers or back of a dresser, are finished to a perfection not found in mass-produced furniture. "That is the true sign of a craftsman," he comments. "I always tell my apprentices that heart and devotion to the work is more important that actual skill." Another important factor is the choice of the right wood for each piece: sometimes a particularly beautiful piece of wood will inspire him to build a certain item; other times it will be the design that inspires the choice of wood.
(DRESSING TABLE) Shimazaki often works late at night, because he is busy with the many visitors who come to see him in the daytime. He considers each item he produces to be a part of himself, "almost like a child, to be loved and protected." His outstanding talent and devotion to his craft have made Kuniharu Shimazaki a vital link between Japan's modern society and the traditions of the past.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Japan is one of the most industrially sophisticated countries in the world -- but many of the traditional arts and crafts developed over the centuries still service. In one of the older districts of Tokyo, 72-year-old Kuniharu Shimazaki has spent sixty years crafting beautiful furniture from wood.
SYNOPSIS: Shimazaki is one of the few remaining expert cabinet-makers still working at this ancient craft. Attention to even the tiniest detail is vital to this veteran designer. As Shimazaki makes all his own tools they are very precious to him. He orders the steel blades from a specialist, but makes the handles himself to exactly fit his own hands. In this way he achieves a perfect fit for every joint he makes.
Only tractional Japanese styles a re made by Shimazaki. They include dressing tables, display shelves, letter boxes and even tiny boxes for personal seals. He works completely on his own with no plans or blueprints. the joints he makes, without the aid of any nails or screws, fit so precisely that they become invisible in the finished product - even on the backs or dressing tables. Another important factor in Shimazaki's work is the choice of the right wood for each piece. Sometimes an attractive piece of wood will inspire him to build a certain piece. At other times it will be the design that inspires the choice of wood.
Shimazaki often works late at night because he's busy with the many visitors who arrive to see him in the daytime. He considers each piece t be a part of himself and says he sees them almost like children -- to be loved and protected .Kuniharu Shimazaki's outstanding talent is a fascinating link between Japanese traditions of the past and the present world.